NYU Florence
The Language of the Jews of Islam: The History and Politics of Judeo-Arabic

Judeo-Arabic is a religiolect that has been spoken and written in various forms by Jews throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Judeo-Arabic literature deals for the most part with Jewish topics and is written by Jews for a Jewish readership. This talk will review the history of Judeo-Arabic and analyze its structure and modern use in Israel and elsewhere among Arabic-speaking Jews.

This analysis will provide an interesting perspective on the cultural dimension of Israel’s integration in the Middle East by establishing Israel as a true bi- or even multilingual state where both Hebrew and Arabic (as well as other languages) serve as the functioning and official languages of the state.

This analysis will provide an interesting perspective on the cultural dimension of Israel’s integration in the Middle East by establishing Israel as a true bi- or even multilingual state where both Hebrew and Arabic (as well as other languages) serve as the functioning and official languages of the state.

Benjamin Hary
Director, NYU Tel Aviv; Professor, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University

Professor Benjamin Hary is the Director of NYU Tel Aviv and Professor at the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU. Up until 2014 he was Professor of Hebrew, Arabic, and Linguistics and the Director of the Program in Linguistics at Emory University. His research and teaching interests include Jewish language varieties in general and Judeo-Arabic in particular, Jews in the Islamic world, the politics of Arabic language use in Israeli society, corpus linguistics, language and religion, dialectology, and sociolinguistics. Hary has recently focused his research on issues such as why and how Jews (and for that matter, Christians and Muslims as well) speak and write differently from people who are not Jews (or Christians and Muslims). He is the author of Multiglossia in Judeo-Arabic (1992), Translating Religion (2009), and Daily Life in Israel (2012, with R. Adler). He is also the editor and co-editor of Judaism and Islam (2000); Corpus Linguistics and Modern Hebrew (2003); Esoteric and Exoteric Aspects in Judeo-Arabic Culture (2006); and his recent large volume (with Sarah Benor) Languages in Jewish Communities, Past and Present (to be published in August 2018). Hary published over 50 articles and book reviews on Judeo-Arabic, as well as on Arabic and Hebrew linguistics and has lectured widely in Europe, Israel, Egypt and North America. As a strong believer in Global Education and “hands-on” teaching methodology, especially while abroad, he has developed many study abroad programs throughout his career.